Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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Opponent Preview, Week 7

Malcolm Jenkins Can Do it All
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Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith is suddenly in the spotlight after soaring into the pages of Sports Illustrated. To many in Minnesota, he’s been a star from the moment he set foot on the field, and this recognition is long overdue.

Forget Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, and Eric Weddle; Smith has quietly been the NFL’s best safety since Mike Zimmer arrived as head coach in 2014. In that same time, the Philadephia Eagles have enjoyed comparably elite play from their own safety, Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins joined the Eagles in 2014 and played well enough the following season to earn a four-year, $35-million contract extension. In 2015, he was Pro Football Focus’s second-ranked safety and netted one of the that year’s more impressive stat lines  — 106 tackles and two interceptions, including a 99-yard return touchdown against the New England Patriots.

Much like Smith for the Vikings, Jenkins is a do-it-all player for the Eagles; he’ll line up deep, creep into the box, and even cover tight ends or wide receivers in one-on-one situations. To Sam Bradford, he’s a familiar, looming presence; to the Vikings, he’s a player the offense must account for on Sunday.

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Sam Bradford's first interception
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I’m routinely dumbfounded by the current success of Sam Bradford. Here’s a quarterback who arrived in Minnesota weeks before the start of the regular season, learned the playbook in 15 days, and led the Vikings to a surprising 5-0 record; all without a number of key contributors on offense.

As he prepares to face his former team, he enters Week 7 one of the NFL’s most efficient quarterbacks. Through five games this year, he’s completed 70.4 percent of his passes, thrown six touchdowns, and has yet to turn the ball over. That hasn’t been by chance, though; Bradford’s steady play is the result of his pinpoint accuracy, careful decision-making, and a scheme that isn’t asking too much of its signal caller.

And yet, interceptions are an inevitable reality in the NFL — no qualifying quarterback has ever gone a season without throwing one. Bradford is flourishing, but it’s unrealistic to think he’ll finish the year with ‘0’ in the interception column. So, I asked the Vikings Territory team to predict when Bradford’s clean streak will end. Find their answers — and a special guest’s response– after the jump!

When will Sam Bradford throw his first interception of the year?

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Minnesota Vikings Mark Craig

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune swung by the Blue Door Pub Studios to chat a little Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings and discuss his new book 100 Things Vikings Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. We dove into a few of those 100 items: What made Cris Carter great from a young age, how grizzled Bud Grant was to his players (even during leisure time), the 2009 Brett Favre Carnival, covering the Adrian 296 game, the tragic passing of Korey Stringer, and much more.

Mark and I also got into how this 2016 Vikings team is different than other great Purple squads, if Sam Bradford can continue his high level of play, some Xavier Rhodes appreciation, how Stan Kroenke was gracious enough to let Mark use the TCF Bank Stadium media bathroom, a few anecdotes about Hall of Fame voting (Mark is one of the 46 voters), why Randy Moss was the best/worst interview, and stories about his days of covering the Cleveland Browns before they — you know — moved.

All that and other “Belichick was WORSE with the media in Cleveland” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint


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vikings gain ground
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It’s a luxury when you’re able to gain divisional ground without playing a game, and that’s the good fortune the Vikings found in Week 6. With the Cowboys handing Green Bay its second loss, the 5-0 Vikings are now at least two games up on the rest of the division. The Bears continue to be impressively inept, and while the Lions managed to climb to .500, that also seems like a likely place for them to end the season.

The bye week theoretically gave the Vikings a chance to heal their injuries, most notably Stefon Diggs. Monday practice reports had Diggs sitting out the session, which is slightly concerning considering the extra week off, but only slightly. Groin injuries can linger, so there’s a chance Diggs sits out another week, but the Monday rest may also simply be a precautionary measure for a player who doesn’t need a full week of practice to be effective on game day. It’s probably a sign of how the season has gone that my initial reaction to the prospect of Diggs not playing against Philadelphia was basically, “Oh well. Thielen will just tear it up again.”

We’ve been lucky, haven’t we?

Let’s take our weekly gaze around the division.

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Minnesota Vikings - Philadelphia Eagles

The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings bye week has come and gone, but at least the Packers losing and FOX Sports graphics department kept us entertained. We scrounged up some loose talking points to kick start us back into football mode as Mike Zimmer and the Vikings try to win a dozen Lombardis this year.

Today’s Random Ass Talking Points Include:
• Our Top-3 NFC Competitors Are…
• Aaron Rodgers is NOT Washed
• Is Sam Bradford Legit in the MVP Race?
• Jake Long Starts Sunday @ Philly, Right?
• Vikings MUST Take Advantage of 2016 Window
• Life on the Practice Squad
• Taylor Heinicke Returns
• Bye Week Medical Roundup
• Mike Zimmer is Gonna Destroy Carson Wentz
• Outlook on the Rest of the NFC North

All that and other “Bye to the Bye” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint


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